News Register for our weekly news digest here.

Artist Seeks Historical Status for Mexican Border Wall Prototypes

The Swiss-Icelandic artist Christoph Büchel is urging the United States to designate the eight prototypes for President Donald Trump’s Mexican–US border wall a national monument, claiming that they are a “major Land Art exhibition” and have “significant cultural value.” Michael Walker of the New York Times reports that Büchel launched an online petition on Tuesday, January 2, through the nonprofit organization MAGA (whose name is a play on the president’s 2016 campaign slogan) that seeks protection for the prototypes under the Antiquities Act of 1906.

Even though the prototypes were built by six private contractors and designed according to the United States Customs and Border Protection specifications, for Büchel, the prototypes are a “collective sculpture” and Trump is the artist. Upon seeing the eight freestanding sections of the wall, Büchel said he was reminded of Stonehenge. The prototypes “need to be preserved because they can signify and change meaning through time,” Büchel said. “They can remind people there was the idea to have this border wall once.”

The prototypes, which cost the government $3.3 million, were completed last October. Located in San Diego, they are not accessible on the US side, so Büchel is organizing tours that will travel to Tijuana to view the walls. Even though Trump has been working to reduce the country’s national monuments—he slashed the Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase-Escalante, both in Utah, by around two million acres last month in the largest rollback of federal land protection in history—he needs only to issue a presidential proclamation to designate the prototypes as national monuments.